SAINT-LAZARE – On Friday afternoon a Saint-Lazare family of four came home to find their house in ruins and their lives in sudden turmoil after their home was destroyed in a mid-day fire.
When their neighbour Derek Cornacchia first saw the smoke, he thought it was coming from the chimney, but he quickly realized it was coming from flames in the back the house.
“These people only moved in September of last year and they were doing a large amount of renovations,” Cornacchia said. “They were at the point of finishing the renovations and now the fire started.”
After banging on the door Cornacchia called 9-1-1.
“The fire department took about 25 or 30 minutes to get here,” he said, “but by that time the whole house was engulfed in flames.”
The news of the fire spread quickly throughout this close-knit community. Within hours, Sharon Weiner, who owns a dance studio in Hudson, had started up a collection.
“Anything you can think of we got and then some!” Weiner said.
Katerina Van Kessel works in the neighbourhood pet shop and said she got word almost instantly.
“People were sharing on Facebook, word of mouth, texting each other. That’s the good thing about a small town; we all take care of each other,” Van Kessel said.
The overwhelming support was unexpected by the family.
Weiner was with them when they first saw how much the community had donated to help them.
“They are still very much in shock – overwhelmed by generosity to the point of tears by what they saw – but they’re coping and doing the best they can with what they have,” Weiner said.
The family has now relocated to Vaudreuil and is trying to regroup as they plan to rebuild their home.
As for the collection drive, there is more coming in every hour. In fact, so much is coming in, they’ve had to put donations on hold until they can figure out what else is needed.